If you read my previous post about the Senate Finance Committee round table on Tuesday, where three of the thirteen people called on to testify about how to pay for Obama’s $1.5 trillion universal health case initiative suggested that the excise tax on beer should be increased by between 50% and 400%, then you won’t be at all surprised that the Beer Institute‘s Legislative Action Network has issued an Action Alert for people in favor of keeping good beer affordable. They’re asking that people, if so motivated, please “call your member of Congress and your Senators, especially if they are on the Senate Finance Committee and weigh-in on the devastating impact ANY increase on the federal excise tax on beer would have on your business. The following two links can help you determine your member of Congress and Senators. And below is a table of the members of the Senate Finance Committee with a link to each member. Public comments can also be made at the committee’s website.
Below is additional analysis of the impact of raising the excise tax on beer from the Beer Institute.
Raising Alcohol Taxes Will Have a Severe Economic Impact,
Offsetting Any Revenue Generated by the Tax
Directly and indirectly, the beer industry employs approximately 1.9 million Americans, paying them almost $62 billion in wages and benefits and generating more than $198 billion in economic output. Proposals to triple or quadruple the excise tax will have severe economic impacts on the industry. Just tripling the current beer tax to $20.25/proof gallon will cost the country jobs at a time when the national unemployment rate is the highest it has been since 1983. Beer Institute estimates that a 300% increase in the excise tax on beer will result in 179,000 lost jobs, $5.9 billion in lost wages, $18.9 billion in lost economic output, and $2.7 billion in lost federal, state, and local revenues from decreased production and consumption. The impacts of these tax increases may be even greater for small businesses as microbreweries and brewpubs will be hit with significantly larger tax bills. Many of these smaller companies may be forced to close.
An excise tax is designed to collect additional monies as volumes increase over time. The growth in beer industry volumes have added more than $800 million in additional federal revenue since 1991 when the beer excise tax was doubled. Excise taxes are hidden taxes on consumers who pay them in the final retail price of a product. In 2008, taxes on the beer industry at all levels of government added up to more than $41 billion dollars. The total tax burden of federal, state, and local taxes on beer are more than 41 percent of the retail price paid by consumers.
Beer Taxes Disproportionately Affect
Lower Income Consumers
Approximately 50 percent of all beer purchased in the United States is by consumers with household incomes of $50,000 per year or less. That means the relative impact of beer excise taxes on households in the lowest income brackets is 6.5 times greater than those with the highest incomes.
The vast majority of our consumers are hardworking Americans who do not abuse alcohol products (Source: Harris Interactive, 2008). By levying an even higher tax on this segment of the population, Congress will make it even more difficult for them to enjoy a simple pleasure during these difficult economic times. These are exactly the people who should not be penalized in a misguided attempt to deter the small percentage of the public that abuses these products. Furthermore, during the fall 2008 campaigns, many candidates called for providing tax relief to this portion of the population. Brewers and beer importers agree, which is why they have supported measures such as the Brewers Excise and Economic Relief (B.E.E.R.) Act of 2009, which already has 174 cosponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives. The BEER Act (H.R. 836) hopes to return the federal beer excise tax back to its pre-1991 level of $9 per barrel for large brewers and $3.50 for small brewers.